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Fish Oil May Counteract Pollution's Effect on Heart

Supplements may reduce decline in heart rate variability caused by exposure to polluted air

MONDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Supplementation with fish oil may help prevent a decline in heart rate variability (HRV) associated with exposure to particulate matter, according to a study of elderly subjects published Dec. 15 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Fernando Holguin, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues studied 50 nursing-home residents in Mexico City with an average age of 81 to 83. For six months, they provided residents with daily supplements containing two grams of fish oil or two grams of soy oil.

In the fish-oil group, the researchers found a 54% reduction in HRV during exposure to particulate matter in ambient air during the pre-supplementation phase. This improved to a 7% reduction during supplementation. A small, insignificant reduction in HRV also occurred in the group receiving soy oil.

"Larger intervention studies are needed to confirm the modulating effect of n-3 PUFA on the adverse cardiovascular outcomes related to air pollution exposure in susceptible populations and to clarify the dose-response relationship," the authors conclude.

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